Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More on Vinayaka Chathurthi

I have been extremely busy both at work and at home. So this post is only going to be pictures. Some of you have asked me what I made on Vinayaka Chathurthi day. I made pulihora, daddojanam, undralla payasam and biyyam (rice) undrallu.

The undrallu payasam is a pretty eloborate payasam and preperation for it starts a couple - three days before the payasam is actually made. I will try and do a write up as soon as I can.

Since Ganesha is at home, I have been making naivedyam for him everyday! On Monday, I made sesame and jaggery laddoos, Tuesday it was sweet potato halwa (I lost the picture of the halwa) and it was semiya payasam this morning!

food on Vinayaka Chathurthi - daddojanam, undralla payasam, biyyam undrallu and lemon rice (top to bottom)

making the undrallu for the undralla payasam

the undrallu all ready to be made into payasam

3 minute sesame seed and jaggery balls

10 min semiya payasam

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Happy Vinayaka Chathurthi

home made Ganapthis/Vinayakas/Ganesh with clay and colors

Happy Vinayaka Chathurthi to everyone! Enjoy our "home made" Ganapathis. This is how a few of us spent our Friday night last night - by making our own clay Ganeshas. This is the first time I have done and will not be the last time :). This was so much fun!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Angel Hair Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Black Olives and Basil

angel hair pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, olives and basil

This is another 20 minute meal. Perfect for days like today - we ate a little too much for lunch so something light and refreshing like this is perfect for dinner. Straight to the "recipe".

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 3.5 oz sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup milk/half and half
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Angel hair pasta
  • one skillet (NOT a non-stick skillet)
  • one stock pot for the pasta
  • First off, boil water in the pasta pot for the angel hair.
  • Put the non-stick skillet on medium heat, add the oil. Add in the garlic and the onions, fry until translucent.
  • Add in the red pepper, black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, freshly ground black pepper and salt.
  • The pasta water should be boiling by now. Add in the pasta and some salt. Let the pasta cook.
  • Cook the sauce for about 3-4 minutes then add in the milk/half and half and deglaze the pan. Turn off the heat, add about 3/4th of the basil.
  • Toss the sauce with the pasta, serve. Garnish with the rest of the basil.
sun-dried tomato pasta sauce cooking

Update: As per Vaishali of Happy Burp's idea I am inlcuding this "extra" - When I was gathering ingredients from the refrigerator to make this pasta, my eyes did fall on the jar of half used capers and I thought of putting them at the end but I completely forgot about it until I was done eating the pasta. But a tablespoon or two of capers, added at the very end right before the milk would go very well with this pasta. Also, instead of the milk, one could deglaze the pan with some wine if you like going that route :).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sauteed Paneer Spinach and Carrots

sauteed paneer, spinach and carrots with phulkas
(the phulkas are made of 3/4 parts whole-wheat flour and 1/4 parts golden temple atta)

Tonight was one of those nights - the nights when I come home with a thoughtout plan for what to make for dinner but then something happens which affects the plans I had in mind. I wanted to make "chamadumpala pulusu" (colacasia in tamarind gravy) with phulkas but upon opening the cabinets, I found that I waited too long to make the dish. The colacasia I got were already bad and had white spots on them (ewww) - had to pitch them. Then I frantically looked in the freezer and didn't find any veggies that I wanted to cook with but found some home made paneer. In the refrigerator were some carrots and a bag of baby spinach. I made a quick decision and decided to whip up something with what I had on hand. What I should say is that it was a HUGE hit. We loved the end result. The most appealing aspect of this dish is that it took all of 20 minutes to make it (It will probably take me more time to actually type out this recipe).

  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp each of cumin and mustard seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 5 green chilis, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 carrots, finely diced
  • 10-12 one inch paneer cubes
  • 10 oz bag baby spinach
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 pinch garam masala (roasted cinnamon, cloves, caradamom and shahjeera powder in equal amounts)
  • salt, to taste
  • handful chopped cilantro (optional)
  • One medium sauce pan with a lid
  • To start off, put the finely chopped carrots in a microwave safe vessel, sprinkle about a couple of tablespoons of water and microwave covered for about 4 mins until the carrot is soft but not mushy.
  • Put the sauce pan on medium heat, add the cumin and mustard seeds. Let them splutter.
  • Add the green chilis, onions and garlic, fry until onions are translucent.
  • Then add in the microwaved carrots and the paneer. Add in the salt. Cook for a couple of minutes stirring often. As you stir crumble up the paneer.
  • Add the baby spinach. The spinach may act like it doesn't want to get in the saucepan, but just jam it in there and close the lid and cook on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Open the lid and the spinach should all be wilted, stir well.
  • Check the salt and add the coriander and the garam masala powders. Turn off the heat.
  • Garnish with cilantro.
Dessert tonight was Elise's Banana Bread with vanilla icecream and a drizzle of some hot fudge. The only change I made to Elise's recipe is that I added 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup and added in about 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. Thank you, Elise. That recipe is a keeper - so easy to remember and simple to make. Made the most moist and delicious banana bread!

banana bread w/ vanilla icecream and hot fudge

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Home Grown Tomatoes - Tomato "Roti" Pachadi - GBP Project

tomatoes of different shapes and sizes

Well...we moved but still have some unpacking to do which I am not sure will ever get done ;). All my friends tell me that it is "normal" to have some boxes that are left unpacked. We unpacked everything that we "see" lying around in the house on a regular basis but the boxes that were put in the garage during the move are the boxes that we haven't touched.

I thought I would do a quick post before I loose all my blog readers :).

The following is a picture of the tomatoes on the one and only one plant I planted in a 20 inch pot when I was in the apartment. It is still in the pot in the new house and has been doing pretty good, if I may add. It hasn't given me enough tomatoes to actually make a pachadi out of it but the three tomatoes that I harvested from this plant, combined with another couple of tomatoes given to me by my friend Laurie and others that I bought from the local produce market made some awesome pachadi. This will also be my first contribution to the GBP project that L.G is hosting over at her place.

the tomato plant in a pot

Back home in India, 'Roti pachadis' are generally made in a stone mortar and pestle by hand. I remember my grandmother, meticulously grinding these awesome pachadis in the "pachadi" mortar and pestle. Their entire house had about 4-5 different kind of stone mortar and pestles - different ones for different uses and different ingredients.

Any whoo, coming to the tomato pachadi - there are a gazillion different ways of doing it. My recipe is from mom and it is so simple that you can still taste the tomatoes without the over powering taste of anything else.

  • Tomatoes - I did not keep track of how many I used. I used all of the large tomatoes that you see in the picture + another half of the small roma ones you see in the picture
  • Green chilis - 2-3 sliced
  • Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp (or more if you like the heat)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • Salt - to taste
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
For the tadka/popu
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 1 tbsp urad dal
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves, broken
  • one sauce pan
  • one small pan for the tadka
  • Blender/food processor
  • Put the 1 tsp oil in the sauce pan, add the green chilies and the tomatoes. Cook on medium to medium-high heat until tomatoes are all cooked and water evaporates from them. The tomatoes should resemble a thick mass.
  • Add the cumin, coriander powder, chili powder and salt and turn off the heat. Let it cool a bit.
  • Put the tomatoes in the blender or food processor and process until smooth.
For the tadka
  • Put the oil in the small pan. Add the chana dal and the urad dal, fry for a minute or so. Add in the cumin and the mustard seeds wait until they splutter. Add the curry leaves. Turn off the heat and add the tadka to the chutney.
tomato chutney

PS: The chutney goes well with dal and rice or chapathis. The tadka can be skipped and the chutney could be used as a sandwich/tortilla spread. For a sweet version of the chutney, skip the chili powder, reduce the salt to a pinch and add in some sugar!